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Between Two Eternities Review : Review

Between Two Eternities presents Robert and Marcie Silver, who lead an idyllic life. At age 32 Marcie seems to have the world on a platter and would appear to have decades in which to enjoy it; but fate is never predictable and even youth does not preclude the possibility of death. What begins as tiredness evolves into the eventual certainty that something is wrong - and with it the veil of lies, denial, and illusion is lifted.

The first thing readers will notice about Between Two Eternities is that there's plenty of dialogue between all characters: dialogue lending to both light discussion and deep psychological profiling: "Marcie turned to him. "Happy New Year, honey." He kissed her, hoping she would attribute the break in his voice to the rigor of his fast. "Happy New Year, sweetheart." The numbness was gone. There was nothing left to cushion the brutal reality that lay ahead. In the days that followed, Robert felt like a snail that has been deprived of its shell: There was no place left for retreat."

As the two confront the devastating truth in different ways, at first hiding their pain from each other and then clashing over these different coping methods, Marcie and Robert come full circle from confronting love to confronting death and life's meaning. And as they slowly let in friends and religious figures from their Jewish faith, they gain perspective and insight from unexpected places: "He looked from Robert to Marcie. "Maybe it's because we read so many fairy tales when we were young - or maybe it's something inherently tied up with human frailty - but we all seem to be guilty of making the assumption that we're entitled to live happily ever after, that life is supposed to be a smooth road that we should be able to skip joyfully along. Whenever evil, sorrow, or tragedy waylay us along the way, we react with hurt surprise, as though they are out of place and out of order and have no relation to the real business of living."

There are no simple palliatives, but insights supporting how to face change (even death) with strength: "It can't be easy for anyone who knows that his own death is imminent, but, actually, it's that last bit of death-overshadowed life that you need help facing, not the final act of death itself. And the Torah would tell you to live every moment allotted to you to its fullest, and to face the fact that there are not destined to be many moments with courage and dignity."

From decisions on how to spend last days and how to renew the love between them to how to face a loved one's moving on, Between Two Eternities provides a gripping saga packed with discussions of life and death's meaning, how to face the inevitable with dignity and wisdom, and most of all - how to preserve lasting love in the face of end times.

Ethical considerations - such as the right to refuse life support - are introduced to the mix towards the end of the novel: its 1970s setting means that hard rules have to be broken to achieve this goal, raising many issues all characters must grapple with: "With a trembling hand, Robert smoothed the sheet under Marcie's chin, remembering how she'd looked the night she'd begged him not to let the doctors prolong her life. "But I love you," he whispered now. "I want you with me as long as I can have you - even if it has to be this way. Surely, you can understand that."

While the novel's conclusion is predictable (even inevitable), the changing relationship between husband and wife is not: for both are on a journey brought about by medical challenge, truth, and life-affirming measures; and both face the ultimate test of their love and ability to give in the face of letting go with dignity.

Heartfelt, poignant, and - surprising - even uplifting at many unexpected points, Between Two Eternities will captivate any reader interested in life, death, and transition points in between.

Diane Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer
Midwest Review of Books
April 2013, Volume 12, Number 4

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